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Welcome to AADL's local history page!

We have a large local history collection located on the second floor of the Downtown Library where you'll find a variety of sources for genealogy research. We've also produced several online collections you may be interested in, including...

50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair The 50 year history of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair including an exhibit on the path the Art Fair has taken, a collection of over 100 images including photos and promotional materials, audio memories of art fair participants and visitors, and videos.
Ann Arbor Architecture Archive Learn the history of the buildings around us with this gallery of images and text about Ann Arbor's historic structures. Includes the full text of Historic Buildings, Ann Arbor, Michigan by Marjorie Reade and Susan Wineberg.
Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Minutes A chance to view the history of Ann Arbor through the eyes of its governing body. Search the full text of Ann Arbor City Council meeting minutes from 1891-1930 or browse available meetings. All sets of minutes can be viewed as images or as searchable pdfs.
Ann Arbor Cooks Online collection of heirloom recipes and cookbooks from Ann Arbor area community organizations, churches and businesses. Browse or search recipes, or view cookbooks in their entirety. Includes access to Repast, the acclaimed culinary history magazine.
AACHM Living Oral History An oral history project in partnership with the African American Cultural & Historical Museum of Washtenaw County. The interviews serve as a road map illustrating what local African-Americans witnessed, experienced, and contributed to building the community we share today.
Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive The history of North America's longest running festival for independent and experimental film is told through programs, posters, flyers, photographs, newspaper articles and original interviews.
Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now Online collection of over 130 articles from the Ann Arbor Observer covering a wide variety of local history topics, fully searchable and browsable by subject. Also has an image gallery of historic Ann Arbor photos.
Ann Arbor Police Department History An online exhibit of the history of the Ann Arbor Police Department. Includes full-text of True Crimes and the History of the AAPD, The History of the Outdoor Range and hundreds of photographs and images of memorabilia collected by the department since 1847.
Ann Arbor Summer Festival Archive Learn about the history of one of Ann Arbor's largest cultural events, featuring programs and posters from each year, contemporary newspaper articles, hundreds of photos, and original interviews with past Festival directors.
Downtown A2 Historical Street Exhibit Program Tour the permanent sidewalk exhibits at sixteen landmark sites throughout downtown Ann Arbor. Includes full-text and keyword access to an image database of hundreds of images from each location.
The Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders Who are the people who made Ann Arbor the city we all know and love? From the earliest pioneers to twentieth-century philanthropists, here are the stories of businessmen and women, visionaries and artists, educators and entrepreneurs, doctors, ministers, and mayors.
Freeing John Sinclair: The Day Legends Came to Town Learn about a piece of Ann Arbor's radical past with photos, essays, newspaper articles, the entire run of the Ann Arbor Sun, and original interviews. This website documents the activities of John Sinclair, the day John Lennon and Stevie Wonder played a concert in Ann Arbor, how an Ann Arborite ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and the actions the White Panther/Rainbow People's Party.
Making of Ann Arbor Discover the history of Ann Arbor through full-text access to several books and several image collections. Includes a collection of postcards, historic buildings, advertisements, and maps of early Ann Arbor.
Old News Read newspapers from Ann Arbor's past to learn more about the places around you. Old News includes over 115,000 articles and photos from the Ann Arbor News, Ann Arbor Courier, Ann Arbor Argus, and Ann Arbor Argus-Democrat. Read full issues of 19th century newspapers and browse or search articles and photos from the 20th.
pictureAnnArbor An online photo collection of Ann Arbor past and present. Search for images of Ann Arbor and add some of your own.
Signal of Liberty Ann Arbor's prominent abolitionist newspaper, with issues from 1841-1847 now available online. Browse the articles in the original or search all newspaper items.
University Musical Society: A History of Great Performances This collection includes full text searching and browsing access to the first 100 years of historical programs from University Musical Society concerts, as well as hundreds of photographs from their 131-year history.
Ypsilanti Gleanings Ypsilanti Gleanings is the official publication of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, which through painstakingly-researched articles, first-hand accounts, and historical photographs, presents a clear picture of the Ypsilanti that once was and still is all around us. Explore this online archive by searching, browsing by issue or browsing by subject, and check out the image gallery of photographs and illustrations from the collection of the YHS.

We've also invited some local historians to contribute to a local history blog, which begins below. Thanks for your interest, and enjoy!

Tom Hayden at AADL

The Downtown Meeting Room was packed for Tom Hayden's lecture Monday evening, September 15.

Hayden, a former student at U-M was in Ann Arbor because U-M has recently purchased papers, photos and documents which detail his life as an activist. He stated that "history repeats itself if all parties aren't involved, even dissenters," in creating the future. He will be visiting the area once a year for 4-5 years to decipher his hand-written notes accurately because they include so many primary sources.

MLive reporter Janet Miller wrote a detailed story on his lecture you can find here.

ET Rover Pipeline - Washtenaw County

Fact sheets and maps of the proposed ET Rover Pipeline, LLC (ET Rover) can be viewed online here and are also available at the Downtown Library 2nd floor Reference Desk.

ET Rover Pipeline Company LLC (a division of Energy Transfer) announced a 42” diameter high pressure natural gas pipeline project that is proposed to run through Washtenaw County. The approximately 810-mile natural gas pipeline will connect the rapidly expanding Marcellus and Utica Shale production areas to markets serving the Midwest, Great Lakes and Gulf Coast regions of the United States, or for export to Canada.

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

No not that date.

Sept. 1, 2007 is the day that the lowly Mountaineers of Division I-AA Appalachian State came to Ann Arbor and laid low the mighty Wolverines of the University of Michigan, 34-32 in the home opener.

Ann Arbor News sportswriter John Heuser wrote: “It may be the biggest upset in college football history, a Division I-AA team from the foothills of North Carolina wrecked Michigan’s season opener and made national headlines, shocking the Wolverines in Michigan Stadium.” Until then, no Division I-AA team had defeated a ranked Division I-A opponent since the inception of I-AA in 1978.

Fans and football prognosticator alike were wondering, “What just happened.” Great things were expected the Maize and Blue, who entered the season ranked No. 5 in preseason polls. The game with Appalachian State was a charity match, to give the little guys some national exposure and give the home team an easy victory. UM star running back Mike Hart was stunned, “When you lose to a team like a Division I-AA team, how can you go for national championship in Division I.”

The News headline said it all, “One and done.”

Fans were livid, angry at coach Lloyd Carr. One fan, Cam Swift of Grand Rapids said, “They obviously didn’t prepare the kids for the game. I think it’s time for Lloyd to go. We’ve had too many disappointments under him.” One fan quipped. “Lloyd Carr is an inspiration to me and many other Ohio State fans.” Jim Carty also opined in his column that Carr was losing his touch as a coach. Despite the final score, Mike Hart had an excellent game. After missing most of the second quarter with a bruised hip, he returned to run for 131 second-half yards and two touchdowns. He put his team ahead with a 54-yard run with 4:36 to play and finished with 188 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.

In Boone, N.C., Appalachian State students were dancing the streets. They grabbed a goalpost and dragged it down Main Street. One senior said, “This is my humble opinion: This is the biggest thing to happen in Boone.

News football writer John Heuser gave the team a failing report card with Fs in defense, coaching and overall. The next week, the LOSS was still the news when the Wolverines were about to face the Oregon Ducks and Ducks fans were quacking about their improved hopes for a victory. And what a victory it was. The Ducks added insult to injury by beating the Wolverines, 39-7.

This Saturday, UM plays the Mountaineers in another home opener. This time they hope it won’t be, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “déjà vu all over again.”

34 Million and Counting

That's the estimate on the number of vehicles currently involved in recalls in the U.S. Now there's a quick tool to determine if your car or motorcycle needs a second look: Safercar.gov, a web site launched this week by NHSTA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Using the VIN# of your vehicle, the search tool looks for safety recalls that are incomplete on a vehicle, safety recalls conducted over the past 15 calendar years and safety recalls conducted by major light auto automakers, including motorcycle manufacturers. Very recent recalls may not be in the system yet and not every make and model is covered but it's a fairly comprehensive database with a straightforward interface.

The Monuments Men Revisited

The Monuments Men, the movie with George Clooney and Matt Damon, was based on the book The Monuments Men : Allied heroes, Nazi thieves, and the greatest treasure hunt in history by Robert M. Edsel.

The real Monuments Men were a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of them volunteers, who were museum directors, curators, art scholars and educators, artists, architects, and archivists. These mostly middle-aged family men, walked away from successful careers into the epicenter of the war, risking—and some losing—their lives. They raced against time in order to save the world’s greatest cultural treasures from destruction at the hands of Nazi regime.

Two of these brave men lived among us quietly for decades, one, Charles Sawyer was previously blogged about here, the second was Ralph Hammett.

Professor Hammett taught in the architecture department at U of M starting in 1931, with a hiatus to join the army in 1943, and retired from the University in 1965. His work as one of the Monuments Men and a noted architect will be forever remembered in Ann Arbor having designed some homes as well as buildings such as an addition to the Ann Arbor (then Women's) City Club on Washtenaw, the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church parish hall and chapel, the Lloyd Douglas Memorial Chapel, and the Lutheran Student Center. He also designed the Abraham Lincoln Memorial in Springfield, Illinois. He was named “Architect of the Year” in 1957 by the Michigan Society of Architects. Hammett died in 1984. You can read Old News articles about him here. There is also an extensive website created by his grandson here.

Check out that newfangled voting machine!

Voting Machine Demonstration, March 1942

On your way to the voting booth today, consider what passed for cutting-edge voter technology in Tree Town back in March 1942.

Oldnews has over 200 articles and photos of past Elections in Ann Arbor and 160 that reference past Ann Arbor Mayors, including this one of former Mayor Cecil O. Creal taking the oath of office - with his left hand - 55 years ago.

Ann Arbor Art Fairs: AADL has the Good Stuff

As the Ann Arbor Art Fairs open today, you can learn a lot from AADL. Take a look at 50 Years of Originality: A History of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, a digital collection which includes over 100 images, plus audio recollections and videos. And if you’re interested in viewing past fair posters from our Art Print Collection, click here.

Treasures of the British Library

I am recently back from London where I visited the British Library's Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Among its treasures are the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare's First Folio, and the only remaining medieval manuscript of Beowulf.

There's nothing like seeing rare books in person but you can't browse through them. Now, for selected items, the British Library allows you to do that online at their virtual books page. Here you can read handwritten books by Lewis Carroll and Jane Austen, examine William Blake's, Mozart's and Leonardo's notebooks, and study the drawings in The Birds of America and the Medieval Bestiary. A "Read" option brings up the text of or commentary for the work (Carroll's handwriting is neatly legible but Jane Austen's is not). A "Listen" option reads the text or commentary to you.

I didn't learn about the treasures on the British Library website from my British Library visit. I learned by looking at the Books and Reading page at aadl.org. You can also find the Complete Works of Shakespeare, the New York Review of Books and dozens of other options there.

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